Summer fun cocktail: I haz it, but what shall we call it?

A few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon at a conference, I had a fantastic cocktail called the Bonnie Wee Lass at a fun pub called the Raven & Rose near Portland State University with Sharon Block, Monica Fitzgerald, Rachel Hope Cleeves, and Leslie Paris.

The drink featured the relatively exotic but completely delicious ingredients of Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup, and rose water, and appeared in the most appealing shade of baby pink.  I’m pleased to report that I’ve cracked the recipe code on this one, although the photo at left doesn’t do the color justice.

In any case, here’s the recipe, including instructions for making or procuring rhubarb syrup and rose water:

In a cocktail shaker with four ice cubes, mix up the following:

  • 1/2 C Hendrick’s gin
  • 1/2 C rhubarb syrup*
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 t rose water**

Shake till cold, strain, and serve in a little vintage martini glass like they do at the Raven & Rose, or in whatever glassware pleases you.  Serves 2.  (It fit perfectly into my grandmother’s vintage Southern Comfort glasses.)  I like cocktails that are wetter rather than more alcoholic, and more herbal and fragrant than most.  This one is sweet, but not cloyingly so.  Feel free to chuck a few ice cubes into it if you like–who’s to know?

*rhubarb syrup:  Dice a bunch of rhubarb into 1/2 inch cubes and mix with granulated white sugar, 1/4 C of sugar per 1 C of diced rhubarb.  Cover & let it sit 24 hours on the counter.  Strain off the rhubarb syrup–to make 2 drinks you’ll need at least 2 C of rhubarb, which will yield about 1/2 C of syrup.  You can now make a pie, cobbler, crunch, or crumble with the rhubarb.  Be aware it will require far less sugar now that it’s been soaking in cane sugar for 24 hours, so taste as you go.

**rose water:  This is available in most middle-eastern markets.  If you live in a small North American town, these may be hard to come by.  I tried (but failed) to find them at the Somali market in town, and finally had success at the local middle eastern restaurant, which sold me a bottle for $6.39!  N.B.  Fratguy urges less rose water, but it’s the lovely floral bouquet that I and my friends all thought was so yummy and a very important part of the experience.  (It adds more scent than taste.)

Now for the fun part:  help me find a better name for this cocktail!  “Bonnie Wee Lass” sounds like something that should have scotch in it, but that’s hardly a summer beverage.  We can do better–I think once my roses bloom this summer, I’ll garnish it with a few rose petals!  What do you think about the “Betsy-Tacy?”  I enjoyed it after all for the first time in the company of a bunch of women historians who are also like me women’s historians, some of whom are old friends and some of whom are new, and will forever remember them whenever I mix up one of these.

14 thoughts on “Summer fun cocktail: I haz it, but what shall we call it?

  1. Wow, I go off to a conference (and not even that *far* off) and I fall behind by two whole posts in what looks like not much more than one day! It would be pretty hard to help with a name based just on a luscious picture and an ingredients list. But the reference to the floral bouquet from the rose water and the grandma’s vintage glasses puts me back in time and somehow gets me thinking old-time barbershop. So I’ll go with something irreverent, like “Lilac Vegetal,” although that assuredly doesn’t sound like something you would drink at a women’s history conference. But it sounds like something that would be fun to drink.


  2. If an admiring lurker might venture a suggestion, I offer the name Rhuby Rose. It touches on the main ingredients, and with its feminine sound, honors your company as well.

    I’m not a historian or any sort of academic, but I’m the type of weirdo who has been known to read encyclopedias for fun, and I enjoy the historical discussions. Now that the niece I’m closest to is on an academic track (her field is pyschology), the academic talk gives me insight on the sort of environment she’ll be in as she goes for her advanced degrees.

    Thanks for providing one of my regular online stops. Keep up the good work!!


  3. Leslie Paris thought maybe the “rosy blush,” but then said that she preferred sister of ye’s suggestion of the “rhuby rose.”

    Dame Eleanor: you may be right! I like the playfulness and friendliness of Betsy-Tacy, though. (And I thought that Leslie of all people might like that one, as she’s a historian of childhood!)


  4. Well, since Portland is the city of roses and the drink has rose water in it, maybe Portland should be part of the name… how about Rosie Portlandia

    sounds like an excellent drink! The rhubarb finally came up in the back yard, maybe we’ll have to make a batch…


  5. Well, this was entirely distracting. It caused me to wonder about ladies drinking cocktails at all, which led to Domesticating Drink: Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870-1940 by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch. Part of the analysis is that social drinking–cocktail drinking–outside of the home was a marker of empowerment after suffrage had been achieved. A Note in The Social History of Alcohol Review (Edmonds, 2002) adds some data. The connection between suffrage and prohibition is dear to my heart, every since I got in a little email exchange regarding suffragist agency with an eminent historian here in my new country of residence.

    I questioned the framing that male temperance campaigners in this country included suffrage amongst their goals because it got them the considerable organizing power of the suffragists. I suggested that the ladies themselves also analyzed the political landscape and actively chose to accept the alliance. The email exchange was brief and unproductive.

    Anyway, your cocktail is a take on a gin daisy, isn’t it? A flowery name, like Rhuby Rose, would be appropriate.


  6. See, conferences really are educational! I may claim this as colonial and serve it up to my grad students at our end-of-term celebration. Certainly did wonders for the quality of our discussion in Portland…


  7. Truffula–great connection. Was your email exchange with Catherine? I knew her in college, and in grad school she was roomies with one of my BFFs from grad school, so we hung out a lot. She published her book *really* fast after finishing at Penn. (She’s also the big sister of Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame. She would visit Catherine & hang out with us too on occasion, back when she was just a sweet but very smart kid at NYU.)


  8. Was your email exchange with Catherine?

    No! It was with a very important dude. He offered to send me his book, I said sure, he never did, end of interlude.

    I was part of an “orientation to Country” event at which this important historian gave the political history. His characterisation of suffragists as of use to temperance activists really rankled me but it took a few days to decide I had any place questioning important dude. So I sent and email to all the women who had been in the orientation, saying hey, those ladies might have actively chosen, you know, writing them as passive is dismissive of their aspirations and abilities. One of those folks forwarded my email to important dude (which was fine with me), and he wrote something like “the situation here was different than in the US so you don’t know what you are talking about.” That is, ladies in the US might have thought for themselves but here in this country, our enlightened forefathers figured it out for them…as a byproduct of something else. Boy, what smart and progressive forefathers we had. Lucky us.

    Uh huh.

    I’m glad he actually took the time to respond, I just wish it had been more constructive. Probably to his mind it was.

    What I learned from this: speak up, on the spot. And practice for mastery the terminology in other fields where you have an interest. I may have been reluctant to speak up because I lacked confidence in my ability to use the disciplinary language.


  9. I like Rhuby Rose, (although alas, not so much drinks with gin). Looking forward to having a few cocktails with you when you are next in town!


  10. Katherine–for sure! I’ll be back in August, and will give you a heads-up when I have the plans set. Those drinkies we had in April were pretty darn tasty, too!

    Truffula: Right–it’s only American women activists who are capable of thinking for themselves. (Insider tip: claiming regional or national specificity is a transparent historian’s trick for deflecting questions that flirt with the outer reaches of our knowledge! “But Blargistan is different!” is a dodge, but it seems like you had this guy’s number all along.)


  11. Hi there!

    Thank you for for posting this! We are honored to be in your post!

    We named the cocktail the Bonnie Wee Lass, because it has the Scottish Hendricks gin in it, but would love to see what name you come up with! Hendricks is well-known for having rose qualities, so a petal from your favorite bush would be perfect!

    Also, I thought I would stop in and see if you want the recipe? I would be happy to share, if you’re interested.

    Talk with you soon,


  12. Of course–I should have figured. I forgot Hendrick’s is made in Scotland! Thanks for your note. Unfortunately, I live 1,000+ miles away but will hope to visit the Raven & Rose when I return. My friends & I had a terrific time over cocktails and charcuterie etc.


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